Why Wii?

The First Rule of Policing claims another victim. Via WSB-TV in Atlanta:

The family of a 17-year-old shot and killed by a Euharlee police officer has hired an attorney, and they say he had a remote control in his hand. They say it was not a gun.

Christopher Roupe, 17, was in the ROTC at Woodland High School and wanted to join the Marines. His friends said he looked after them.

The police went to Roupe’s home to serve a probation violation warrant on his father. No information is provided about why the warrant issued or why he was on probation, but warrants issue, for significant reasons or trivial ones.

A female police officer told GBI investigators that Roupe pointed a gun at her when he opened the door.

“We don’t know where that statement came from. The eyewitnesses on the scene clearly state that he had a Wii controller in his hand. He heard a knock at the door. He asked who it was, there was no response so he opened the door and upon opening the door he was immediately shot in the chest,” Law said.

Knock and announce, meaning that the police should have advised whoever was inside that they were the ones knocking, for everone’s safety. They didn’t. But even if they had, would that have made a 17-year-old boy say to himself, “I better put down this Wii controller because the cops might think it’s a gun and kill me”?  Not likely.

The reason for posting this is the banality of the killing.  Think of your child, or any child, answering the door with a gadget in his hand.  Think of that child dead because the cop didn’t quite know what he was holding, and the First Rule of Policing demanded she kill him out of ignorance.

This happened, and will continue to happen, as long as police are trained and permitted to kill from a position of ignorance rather than take any potential risk to their safety.  Yes, a risk is involved.  No, it is not acceptable to kill children out of ignorance. If that’s unacceptable, then get a job as a firefighter.

23 thoughts on “Why Wii?

  1. Scott Jacobs

    I would feel differently if the kid had opened the door and while standing there had jerked his hand behind him like he was reaching for something at the small of his back…

    But this? Not even close.

    Worse part is that the cop won’t be fired, won’t be prosecuted, and won’t be subject to a civil suit.

  2. Bill

    Maybe this sounds trollish, but if the cops are soooo terrified of everything and everyone that they constantly have their guns out, why do I want them protecting me? INAL and don’t know what legal remedies there are to help stop this stuff, but ridicule and shame (as Glenn Reynolds advocates often, plaster their names and faces all over the internet) would go a long way. Yes, it could go too far the other way (cops not pulling their guns for fear of getting called wusses) but seems like a start. I’m not going to wait for other cops to take the lead though – that’ll never happen.

    1. Scott Jacobs

      I would get behind this, if not for the fact that publicly shaming a cop almost always results in your arrest, often results with you being beaten, and every now and then gets you shot.

      1. SHG Post author

        We publicly shame cops fairly regularly when we can identify who they are. It doesn’t have nearly as significant an impact on them as some might hope. On the other hand, I’m not aware of any CDL getting beaten or shot for it.

        1. Bill

          I didn’t communicate the point well. We do shame some police/elected officials when we find their names but to borrow a phrase, we need to make “Chickensh** Culture” shameful. So cops ridicule each other for constantly being so scared they pull their guns over everything. Effectively changing the culture to where machismo is defined by how little you pull your gun, shoot dogs or taze immobilized people as opposed to what we have now. I guess that would fly in the face of Rule #1 but with enough consistent social pressure, for instance, the frequent butt of late night show jokes, South Park, family guy etc, it could probably put a dent in it. I have no hard proof and know cops still do frequent Donut shops, but it seems like it’s been drastically reduced since it first became a punch line.

        2. Bill

          Scott, I did Bing it first but the only reference I can see for CDL is Commercial Driver License. What’s the reference if you don’t mind?

          1. SHG Post author

            CDL = criminal defense lawyer(s)

            Since we use those words a lot around here, the abbreviation saves on wear and tear.

            1. Bill

              Thanks Scott – I’ve been an occasional reader for a while although recently became a daily reader. Still trying to learn my way around the rules and customs.

        3. Scott Jacobs

          Try being a normal member of society. Some nobody telling the cops they did a bad thing and should be ashamed of themselves is going to find themselves getting a lot of notices about broken taillights.

      2. stavro375

        I would be slightly less cynical. It’s rarely smart to shame anyone in person; that’s what gossip, the presses, and (in today’s age) the internet are for. When dealing with the police there’s a risk of an especially vindictive individual abusing the law, but from what I’ve seen it’s miniscule.

        1. Scott Jacobs

          Bah. If you aren’t shaming them to their face, you’re just masturbating.

          And I dunno where you folks live, but “contempt of cop” is a thing here in Illinois.

          1. Bill

            It’s a thing everywhere. Shaming them to their faces might prove you’re more macho than I am – I’ll admit I don’t have the balls or desire to engage in irritating cops in person. It’s an equation I’ll always come out on the wrong end of. Even if I get away with it at the time, they’ll remember me or one of their friends will and make me live to regret it. But I don’t buy your premise. How is me ridiculing them to their face anywhere nearly as effective as blogging about it and helping to make their names notorious? They won’t listen to me anyway and they certainly won’t change their behavior. I’ll get arrested, beat up, hassled or have my dog shot none of which do much good for anyone involved. On the other hand, if Officer CitizenKiller’s mom, grandma, aunt, girl he wants to bang etc all see that he’s some powder keg that killed some innocent lady’s chihuahua b/c leaned on the wrong snitch or couldn’t read the warrant, that’ll have an impact. It might also (I know now not, currently it’ll probably help him get hired) cause him problems getting hired down the road, especially if he changes careers. Or, it might help someone else recently abused by the guy see that he has a pattern of abuse and be enough encouragement for him to file a complaint (not that those matter, but they are better than nothing)

        2. Bill

          Ridicule and shame are cruel and they should only be used in very specific (and justified circumstances). I was inarticulate though when I made my original point. Glenn Reynolds advocates shining sunlight on this sort of stuff as a means of getting people to think twice before they do it. I agree and Scott points out, that’s already done and hasn’t had much of an impact (it’s still good advice, but it’s like fighting a tidal wave with a espresso cup). What I’m talking about (and I’m not sure how to get there) is a culture change so that Cops ridicule each other for being, well, P——-.. If cops started ridiculing each other for being quick to pull their guns, it’d have some impact (although I can’t speculate how much, i guess it would depend largely on the individuals involved). If you shoot a dog that wasn’t threatening, you become the laughingstock of the department.

          [Ed. Note: long story deleted.]

          This very long winded (I apologize for that) story is what I’m trying to convey. If all the cops ridiculed this guy (it was clear he couldn’t take ridicule) he seemed like the type that would probably go out of his way to shoot the next dog he came across. But if he was treated like a pariah, ridiculed, made fun of for being a coward, and then dealt with like a grown bully who just ripped up some 3 year old kid’s blankey, I think it would have an impact. If not on him, on others of the would be variety. I know this won’t happen b/c it’s too big of a cultural change and violates Rule #1. I know the fetish of officer safety, the constant bombardment with Us vs. Them sentiment, the training to teach very hard line compliance tactics coupled with little to no chance of condemnation are too entrenched to easily change. You hear these stories about how child molesters are treated in prison, and how convicted cops are treated similarly but I don’t know how much truth there is to the last one (I’m guessing the prison guards go out of their way to protect the cops). Until cops that abuse their power start going to jail (for terms commensurate with those of everyone else), until they are very publicly ridiculed and shamed to the point everyone knows their names, until their ‘own’ kind start making fun of them and ostracizing them for this stuff, it won’t change.

          All you need to do is take a look at PoliceOne (I didn’t include a link so hopefully the reference is acceptable- but if it violated the spirit of the rule, then I apologize in advance and will correct it) sometime, pick the outrageous police abuses citizen story and see how fellow officers view such incidents, and it’s easy to lose all hope. Maybe we can get some laws passed, maybe we can get people engaged enough that they pressure DA’s to prosecute these cases the same way they otherwise would, maybe we can get Dashboard Cameras (having GoCams on SWAT team helmets and wider angle Dash Cams would be good too) that cover more areas and stop tolerating disappearing/lost tapes. But right now, we can name and shame and if it gets popular enough, some of it will likely rub off on fellow officers. I won’t hold my breath, but it’s one of the few things I can hang on to that allow me to remain hopeful we won’t just keep accelerating down this path.

          At this point, I realize I’m making people’s brains hurt and said more than anyone wants to read, so I’ll cut myself off now.

          1. SHG Post author

            Bill, most of the points you raise have been discussed at great length here in the past. It might behoove you to become more familiar with what’s come before than to reinvent the wheel, especially since it’s my wheel and I’ve already done so. Brevity is appreciated, as nobody reads lengthy comments and rarely are they needed when a concise and precise statement will more than do. And don’t worry, if you run too long or break a rule, I’ll fix it. 😉

            1. Bill

              Indeed Scott – I’m a new reader and I’ve started reading previous articles but I realize there’s nothing new under the sun and I don’t want to be a bore . Point taken on each count, especially since I enjoy reading your posts. Point taken on the brevity too – I’ll plea newbie stumbling around trying to find his place on this one but won’t be a repeat offender.

            2. SHG Post author

              It’s cool. And I trashed your last comment with your personal story. If there is a point to make, make it, but without personal stories. Everybody has a story, if not a hundred, and they are free to tell them all. Just not here. Thanks.

  3. Marc R

    That was manslaughter. The officer created the entire one of danger.

    The 1st Rule of Policing would be a lot more persuasive if they were forced to become LEOs. When you apply for that job and get sworn in, you take on the risk there will be criminals you encounter daily. You don’t get to claim you just want to go home at night safely when nobody made you take that job and you’re afraid.

    This story really sticks out because there’s nothing this kid could have done differently. He wasn’t out in public late at night, he didn’t call 911, he didn’t videotape a cop; he literally did nothing wrong in any way. Sure he held a computer game joystick but they look nothing like a firearm. It’s akin to warning somebody to not wear a hat when they open the front door. The other stories, as bad as they are, at least you can (however messed up) they did X and the cop wrongly interpreted as Y. Staying at home playing videogames is like the default method to generally insure zero human interaction much less deadly force from police. And we know this officer won’t face any consequences, and it will happen again and again.

    1. SHG Post author

      That’s the most difficult part of this scenario: What could you tell your child to do or not do to protect him? Only answer the door with empty hands in the air?

  4. Alex Stalker

    Don’t answer the door, especially if it’s a cop. Treat every cop as if they were a dangerous wild animal who might kill you an any moment for no reason.

    1. Marc R

      LOL I actually gave similar advice…pretend the officer is an unfamiliar dog. Maybe he’ll be friendly, say hi, and go on his way. Maybe he’ll kill you for no reason. But if he barks in your face and acts aggressive, you need to be the rational way and deescalate because they will not back down in front of a stranger. You can’t go wrong treating an unknown LEO as an unfamiliar dog.

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